There's nothing for backers to do right now but wait. However, there will be once your RiutBags arrive! At the bottom of the update I'll be asking you to think about and share your first impressions when the RiutBag arrives, use after a week and much longer. The revolution in userthinking is what Riut all about.
Problems + solutions As we get closer to completion and shipment of the first RiutBags, the good news on my problems report continues: no problems have arisen in manufacture to date, shipping and freight is lined up and all customs paperwork is ready. I'll explain the possible problems ahead, though none as yet has materialised. Thanks for helping the RiutBags get this far with your weel wishes, questions and support!
Risks One quick observation from me to backers and those considering running their own projects before I go into detail: during prototyping, the Kickstarter campaign and first stages of manufacture I found I had much more influence in the management of risks. As we move closer to freight and delivery, I have noticed that the risks are less and less within my sphere of influence. Something to note for your own projects in the future.
Not "if" but "when"! We are at point in the project where the RiutBags will be finished and will reach backers. Hurray! This is no longer in question. Instead, the risks arise around when they will arrive. Having spoken to the freight and postal companies, they have warned me about two risks which could impact delivery and one more set of risks could still arise during the remaining manufacture.
1) Customs If the RiutBags are chosen for in depth inspection, or are held with a shipment which is, delivery may be delayed by a week or more. If this happens I will be in touch with affected backers. For some backers, this may push their personal delivery into the next month. I am working closely with my freight company, HMRC (the UK tax people) and the factory to ensure all paper work is in place for a smooth run through customs.
2) Lost post An nerving fact, though an understandable one given the volume of post flying around the world, is that 1.02% of packages are statistically likely to go missing. I can promise you, I don’t want you to hunt for your RiutBag. However, if there is a real problem with delivery, please accept my apologies, let’s talk and I’ll ensure you receive your RiutBag.
3) Manufacturing faults The RiutBags can only be properly inspected once the factory has completed its work. The factory has its own internal quality control that will pick up the majority of faults e.g. threads left sticking out and uncut, uneven stitching. Whilst no one has discovered any manufacturing problems to date, if something more serious does arise, this has the ability to impact time of delivery negatively. However, the RiutBags would be recreated and sent at a later date. This is a worse case scenario and one that is highly unlikely, given the progress you’ll see below.
Timing In my time plan I had originally allowed for a three week buffer in case of delivery problems. However, that buffer was eaten up by two of my earlier errors:
1) Sending the wrong production specifications to the factory for the sampling team to make the first sample RiutBag. It was too small and took over a week to create the first RiutBag in the right dimensions
2) My failure to understand that Kevlar would not be available in the silicone form I required for production. This error took almost two weeks to correct. That's where my buffer has gone.
I am working hard with everyone involved to minimise the impact if customs inspections or loss of post occur, and other risks of trying to make, freight, post and get RiutBags to over 1000 wonderful backers spread all over the world! I apologise in advance if these events do arise and this impacts a trip on which you planned to take the RiutBag or if it is being sent as a gift. Backers, I will be in touch if I need to flag anything like this.
Quality Since the last update, so many backers and online onlookers have remarked that they are astounded that every RiutBag is sewn at sewing machines by real people. It has caused positive amazement in some backers and worry in others that the quality will be poor. To help you see the bigger picture on risk management around quality, here's how it works:
1) Choice of business partner The factory I work with in Huian, China only makes rucksacks. They make approximately one million a year which go all over the world into shops for the best known brands. This is the absolute core of their business. They make professional, identical bags through their relationships with materials manufactures, their manufacturing process and approach to quality. All textiles you use and see – rucksacks, clothing, bed covers, other bags – are sewn by people at sewing machines. We’re aiming for the same high standard you see in other brands.
2) Great people My quality manager at the factory and I have an excellent relationship based on our long discussions, drawings and debates whilst I was at the factory. She fully understands where I’m coming from and is anticipating problems, so that they do not arise in production. It’s rare to find someone as diligent and careful who is managing this process in terms of time and quality.
3) Independent inspection An independent inspector will test the RiutBags and report on the quality of each shipment. The quality expectations, set at high international standards on manufacture, and my personal standards in terms of style, design and quality will be checked thoroughly. I will work side by side with the inspector on this first shipment so we can agree in detail what is and what is not acceptable. If something is not up to scratch – e.g. a seam is unevenly sewn – it will be checked across other bags and repaired. Where something cannot be repaired, the RiutBag must be replaced.
Please remember, all the textiles we wear and see on a daily basis are sewn by hand at a sewing machine. Maybe one day machines will be able to do this, but we're certainly not there yet. For those who missed it, here are my blogs about the manufacturing process and theworking conditions at the RiutBag's factory in China.
Many people have asked: how long does it take to make one RiutBag? That question is very difficult to answer because of the manufacturing process. Each of the 1300 components must be on their way to completion before the next step can begin.
All of the material cutting, fabric tying and preparation for manufacture must take place first. This took about a week.
Then the first components were sewn together. The lining is the innermost shell of the RiutBag so this must be created first.
Finally the outer and more recognisable parts of the RiutBag are beginning to form. By the next update you'll see all of these parts - over 113,000 different pieces of materials and zips - form into the RiutBag you backed late in 2014.
It's such a pleasure for me to share the process of creating these RiutBags. It's an amazing thing for me to see an idea which existed purely in my sketchbooks this time last year form week by week for you wonderful backers.
When will my RiutBag arrive? By my current calculations, I am glad to share with you that all backers will receive their RiutBags in the month chosen.
Unless you've heard from me personally, as a high level guide those closest to the UK will receive their RiutBags earlier in the month. Those furthest away from the UK will receive their RiutBags later in the month. If the risks above arise, I will be in touch. If we get to that stage, whilst I don’t want to keep your RiutBags from you a second longer, they should be with you no later than 2 weeks into the next month.
RiutBag on your back This is what the revolution in user thinking is all about. I want you to use your RiutBags. For work, on your commute, shopping, travel to distant lands, a weekend break. I want to hear your reviews. First impressions, thoughts after the first week, the first month and the first 3 months. I’d love to hear it all! Negative and positive.
I am just one user. I spoke to a new father recently who saw the RiutBag so drastically differently from me. He looked my “laptop holder” and saw a baby mat holder. He looked at my “bottle holders” and saw easily accessible baby wipe holders. In the hands of another user the RiutBag turns into a completely different animal! So make a little video, show us how you use it, or write a review and send it to me. If you want, I’ll share it with the other users across social media networks and on the blog.
From my experience designing the RiutBag for the last few years and using an early production version (too small!) over the last 2 months, I have some tips to get the most out of the RiutBag. I’ll be sharing them in video form in updates but also on Riut’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/riutbag.
Next update In the next update I’ll be writing to you about Chinese New Year, welcoming in the year of the ram and also a month where China stops manufacturing. I'll also show you final RiutBags from China. Wish me luck in getting over the final hurdles before you can start using your RiutBag!